Sermon for Evensong of the Second Sunday after Easter: “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”


Death is an affirmation of the purpose of life in an otherwise meaningless existence. The world could carry on its Godless plan if there were no death. What death is to an individual, that catastrophe is to a civilisation – the end of its wickedness. This is a source of anguish to the modern mind, for not only must human beings die, but the world must die. Death is a negative testimony to God’s power in a meaningless world, for by it God brings meaningless existence to nought. Because God exists, evil cannot carry on its wickedness indefinitely. If there were no catastrophe, such as the Apocalypse reveals, at the end of the world, the universe would then be the triumph of chaos….
            Death proves also that life has meaning, because it reveals that the virtues and goodness practised within time do not find their completion except in eternity.
Fulton J. Sheen The Power of Love
It is always important to remember that even though Lazarus was raised from the dead he would still die. He was raised from the dead so that in him God might be glorified. As someone who believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, he like countless billions through the centuries could have the hope of eternal life in Christ. That is why Our Lord can say ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.’ We can know and trust that death is not the end but rather a beginning, we feel grief at the loss of someone whom we know and love, but have hope that it is not the end of the story.
            The raising of Lazarus from the dead points to Jesus’ resurrection. It shows us that God’s power is beyond our understanding, and the events leading up to Our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection are a means for God to be glorified. In all of these we see the Love of God poured out on the world in and through Jesus, true God and true man. Evil has not had the last world; fear and hatred are conquered by love, and that victory is final. This is the source of our joy – this is what we celebrate for 5o days, a week of weeks, a celebration which defines the nature of the church: we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song. We rejoice that through our baptism we too share in Christ’s death and new life. We have the hope of heaven, where we may experience the fullness of love in God’s presence.
We have a foretaste of it here on earth – we are nourished by Word and Sacrament – given food for the journey of faith so that we may be prepared for what lies ahead. We have the Sacraments so that God may pour out his grace upon us, a free and unmerited gift, shared so that his love may abound in our lives. We have the Church and its teaching so that we may truly flourish and live the lives God intends us to, loving and supporting each other – living out our faith in our lives, sharing our love and joy with others, living out the forgiveness and reconciliation which we have received and sharing it with ours, helping in God’s work of healing and reconciling the world. It’s truly wonderful, gifts beyond our comprehension, which we do not deserve, but which we are given so that we may have life in all its abundance in Him. Our God is not an angry old man in the sky, but one who washes the feet of sinners and invites them to the banquet of His Kingdom, forever, having picked up the tab on Calvary.
So let us rejoice that we have been called to so great a feast and let us look forward to that time when we and all creation will sing the praise of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, to whom be ascribed as it most right and just, all might, majesty, glory, dominion, and power, now and forever.

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